Could You Cope Without Business Email?

Four long years ago, Mark Zuckerberg famously claimed that email was on its way out, and messenger services – specifically Facebook’s Messenger – would change our communication habits. This has certainly proven to be true on consumer mobile devices, since we are increasingly moving towards messenger apps that use data services, rather than SMS messaging. But it hasn’t proven to be true in business.

In the corporate world, email still tends to be mission critical. Few businesses would be comfortable without it. Indeed, email’s dominance as our primary communication medium is one of the reasons we need to maintain service quality.

When choosing a Hosted Exchange provider, it’s important to balance cost with availability. A low price is no good without a decent service level agreement, which details the provider’s commitment to you, and the expectations you should have of it.

Availability and Downtime

Business critical services have to be provided to a robust SLA. It’s services like email that keep a business profitable and responsive, and poor availability could bring a business to its knees within hours.

Email is vital to internal and external communication. Client meetings, sales, marketing and support all rely on email to maintain momentum. If any one department cannot access their mail, the impact on the rest of the business is immense.

Clearly, not having a functioning email account is a productivity drain, but it can also have a ricochet effect on other areas:

– If an email bounces back to a client, they may question your professionalism and commitment

– Failing emails mean that messages are delayed, which can affect sales and marketing activity

– Employees that are unable to email will find it impossible to keep track of team activity

– Many services that rely on email will be crippled by the outage, too

Let’s be clear: sometimes downtime is avoidable, and sometimes we can’t prevent it. Faulty hardware, or an ‘Act of God’, is difficult to prevent. But that should never be an excuse for short-sightedness, or accepting a poor quality of email provision in the longer term.

Cloud4 is proud to offer highly reliable Hosted Exchange services to our many business clients. We don’t just market an SLA: we stick to it, too.

Over the last two years, Cloud4 has consistently achieved outstanding service levels. On our Hosted Exchange service, we have maintained a 99.7% uptime figure for more than two years.

Like For Like

Remember that uptime figures are often manipulated by marketing teams, and a high percentile does not necessarily mean that the service is reliable.

Take the ‘99%’ figure for example. It sounds like a good uptime statement – just short of 100%. However, 99% essentially means that the service could be down for almost 15 minutes each day, and the company would not be in breach of its SLAs. In actual fact, 15 minutes of email downtime would be enough to slash productivity and give your customers real doubts about your commitment.

When looking at hosted Exchange providers, make sure you’re comparing like with like, and ensure the provider gives you an uptime SLA that you can live with.

Find Out More About Hosted Exchange

Cloud4 is committed to offering quality Hosted Exchange email services, as part of a holistic group of services that make business IT simple. With our support, you can ditch the expensive server room and prevent infrastructure over purchasing. And with our commitment to quality service, you can be confident of 99.7% service uptime, keeping your employees connected.

Hosted Exchange vs Office 365

Cloud servicesBusinesses are increasingly using cloud computing to save money and improve efficiency. Migrating the on-premise Exchange server is a key step that can improve performance and cut costs. There are essentially two routes to the cloud: a hosted Exchange solution, or a move to Office 365.

Hosted Exchange and Microsoft Office 365 are both valid choices, but they are not the same solution. The former provides email services in the cloud, while the latter is a virtualised version of the Office suite. Both do provide reliable and scalable email services, but there are some fundamental differences that can make or break a successful migration.

About Office 365

Office 365 is Microsoft’s cloud version of Office, and it includes desktop software on a rental basis. It ‘feels’ the same as the traditional version, so there’s nothing new to learn. This can be a good or a bad thing, depending on how eager you are to stay within the Microsoft ecosystem.

Businesses buy Office 365 on a subscription model, and there are various levels of service on the menu. The most basic is Email Only. If you pay more, you’ll get access to Web Apps – online versions of Excel, PowerPoint and Word – with a license to install the desktop equivalents.

Hosted Exchange is Different

Office 365 is purchased from Microsoft, but hosted Exchange is provided by a number of third parties (like Cloud 4, for example). Hosted Exchange always includes Exchange email in the cloud with support for calendars and tasks.

Hosted Exchange providers will tell you exactly where your data is stored, and precisely which countries’ privacy laws are protecting it. This is vital if you need to follow governance procedures to protect sensitive data. If you do business in the UK, it makes sense to choose a provider that will not transfer your business data across international borders.

It’s sensible to check basics like mailbox size, since those irritating mailbox warnings are the number one bugbear people have with traditional Exchange servers. Ensure Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are in place and offer adequate protection. Note that SharePoint access is not normally included with hosted Exchange, but it may be something you can bolt on.

Weighing It Up

If your organisation uses services like Google Apps (including Google Docs and Sheets), Office 365 is overkill, since you need to rent all of the software alongside the service. Sure, you can purchase the Email Only version, but then you may as well go to a third party for hosted Exchange. Even Active Directory support isn’t included on the cheaper plans.

If your goal is to have rock-solid service and unbeatable uptime, hosted Exchange ticks both of those boxes. For small businesses, hosted Exchange provides the core functionality employees need alongside flexibility of choice. SMEs can adopt solutions from other vendors, rather than being tied into Microsoft’s systems for everything.

Your hosted Exchange provider will help you to migrate your Exchange server over to their cloud platform; this is something Microsoft cannot offer with Office 365. Your provider will also let you know how to change your email server details on any devices already in use; Microsoft offers no phone support for SMEs at all.

Convinced? Activate your free hosted Exchange trial now.

Hosted Exchange 2013 vs Office 365: The verdict

Global communicationHosted Exchange 2013 has gained a lot of traction as one of the best email solutions available for small businesses providing all the features an end user would need, wherever they are. Office 365 hasn’t stayed idled either and was hailed by many as a business computing breakthrough when it came out back in 2011. If both solutions seemingly do the same job in terms of email, what is the difference? Is there any aspect that make one better than the other for business email? Continue reading Hosted Exchange 2013 vs Office 365: The verdict